“I find plants beautiful and insects fascinating, and I like people too. The problem is that you can’t always keep them all. The bulk of my research, therefore, involves trying to understand when plants, animals and people can all exist, and if they can’t, what is the next best option. It’s difficult, because how do you compare, for example, providing 20 hours’ extra work for a female labourer (which could provide critical food for her children) to 20kg of greenhouse gas? How do you compare a protecting a species of bee that no-one’s heard of with extra land for food production?”
Alfy’s career has spanned academia, consultancy, parliament and government including a secondment to Defra to develop the Government’s Bioenergy Sustainability Criteria. His academic research examines the interactions and trade-offs between different players in socio-ecological systems. He received his doctorate from Imperial College before moving to Oxford in 2011 to study the Indian food system. He was the Research Director of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development from 2014, and joined the University of Edinburgh as an Interdisciplinary Lecturer in Sustainable Resource Use for Food Security in 2017.